Exploring Southern Ethiopia had proved to be an incredible adventure so far and it definitely wasn’t going to get boring anytime soon.

We left Key Afar – its Thursday market, its invitations for tea and its cheeky kids – and we drove deeper into the mysterious Southern corner of the country. Turmi was our destination and a beat up car was our transport- organised by our two favourite Key Afar boys.

After staying over who knows where we are in the middle of the night, we arrived early in the morning into Turmi’s dusty town square. We grabbed a warm coke and began discussing our sleeping arrangements. Knowing accommodation options were limited, we asked around about staying with a local family and once it was settled we began exploring!

We had read about a couple of nice lodges that were just outside of town and decided that our directionless meandering could end with a nice cold beer. The road to Buska Lodge turned out to be quite the haven of activity…

Wandering the dusty roads of Turmi

Wandering the dusty roads of Turmi with more kids borrowing my camera! Photo by Olivier De Paolis

Never an empty hand...

Never an empty hand…

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Holding a stick of sugar cane

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Sometimes I am the focus of Oli’s lens! Photo by Olivier De Paolis

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Photo by me, with Oli’s camera!

A rare smile

Another rare smile, beautifully captured by Olivier De Paolis

Mother and child. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

Mother and child. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

One of my all time favourite photos by Olivier De Paolis

The colour, the light, the movement- one of my all time favourite photos by Olivier De Paolis

We met this group of kids at the river and they were so full of life, posing and laughing in front of the camera. People say it all the time, but it really is the people that you meet that make a trip like this so special.

As I sit here and look at this photo I can’t help but grin foolishly, being transported back to that time and place. Never underestimate the power of a photo, so here are some more…

These kids were incredibly photogenic. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

These kids were incredibly photogenic. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

See what I mean? Proudly taken by yours truly.

See what I mean? Proudly taken by yours truly.

Sadly, whether due to tourism or past negative experiences, the adults in Southern Ethiopia are often too wary to even approach foreigners. Often it can make you feel unwanted, and then guilty because of that, but the children are so curious and open.

A classic gesture between those who don't speak the same language. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

A classic gesture between those who don’t speak the same language. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

Later that day we were taken to our host’s house. We met countless family members and friends and sat around eating a cold variation of Kenyan Ugali and our favourite ‘coffee’ from a Colobus husk.

It was both strange and wonderful to be sat with these people in, what felt to us, the middle of nowhere. Again not sharing words, but gestures and comfortable silences. We played a little music, we had endless cuddles with the kids and we slept out under the stars.

Our bare-breasted, bewelled host was pretty unimpressed with us at first, but I think by the time we left she may have warmed just a little. Unless her many offerings of coffee were because she hates it too…

Our hostess and her house. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

Our hostess and her house. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

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The family. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

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Each families home has it’s fenced in plot of land, and at least two chickens! Photo by Olivier De Paolis

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The kids. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

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More little ones. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

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Claiming her territory. Photo by Olivier De Paolis

Our time was up in Southern Ethiopia, but the memories and affection we had for this region would continue.

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